The Floods in Wayanad and Idukki Villages
When the floods started to affect the whole state of Kerala, small villages on the top of Wayanad and Idukki hills had to face the situation as some among the firsts.
Due to torrential rains, the dam shutters in both districts were opened because water levels of the reservoirs rose to critical stages. The government evacuated habitants in close proximity to the dams. Nearby government schools are now serving as relief camps.
Amrita SeRVe village coordinator Haridas from Wayanad district tells, that already in the month of July people were shifted to the government school for a few days due to heavy rains. Blankets and mats were distributed to cope with cold weather.
Haridas reported on the 8th of August that the rain started and waters flooded all over the place in Modakara village, located in the valley of the hill where Valaramkunnu Amrita SeRVe village is situated. The small stream flooded and water levels of nearby rice fields rose high. His house got under water and all the belongings were damaged. He shifted his family to relatives so that he can continue with the relief work and stayed in Manathavady ashram located 18 km away. After two days he went back to check the situation in Valaramkunnu. On 10th of August, Haridas informed the HQ in Amritapuri: “It is raining, and villagers are in their homes without able to go to work, which means they are unable to get food.” Thereafter Haridas organized food supplies through M.A. Math’s Manantavady Ashram.
On 14th of August, Dr. Ajitha from Kalpetta Amrita Kripa Charitable Hospital conducted a medical camp in the Valaramkunnu village for normal check ups. In the evening, Br.Akshayamrita Chaitanya advised to shift Valaramkunnu villagers to the nearby government camp in St. Joseph School for safety reasons. During heavy rains, there is a danger of landslides in the hill area. Village coordinator Haridas organized the shift and total 190 villagers were relocated from the hilltop to the valley by walking. In the camp were a total of 235 people, including neighboring villages.
Vehicles were not running. No Internet for communication. Electricity comes and goes, or it is cut off when there is rain or strong wind. The relief camp in St. Joseph School has a generator, and the government is taking care of the camp providing food and supplies.
The M.A. Math, on the other hand, organized rice distribution in areas surrounding the Manathavady Ashram, since some people wanted to stay in their homes in Valaramkunnu. The tribal Naykar community stayed in the village and Haridas arranged food kits for them. In the camp his main role has been to serve food. He knows all the people personally.
Finally on the 19th of August, the sixth day of the camp, the rains reduced. The plants have changed their color to yellow due to the continuous downpour. The Wayanad relief camp is planned to go on for two more days as a precaution.
The people of Komalikudi village in Idukki district could stay slightly safer. The village lies up on the hills, but no landslides occurred this time. However, mud and stones were rolling through the village.
Rains started at the same time as in Wayanad. Village coordinator cum health worker Sobhana’s house, which is situated on the foothill, got under water. She shifted her family to her uncle’s house on the upper levels of the hill.
In Komalikudi there is no piped water and no electricity at the moment. Amrita SeRVe had constructed a small hydropower plant and piped water connection to the reservoir in 2015. Due to mud and rocks entering the reservoir, the water has become dirty and the water turbine was disabled. Now the tribal villagers have to again fetch their drinking and cooking water from the natural streams uphill.
Sobhana recalls: “When I went to the village, all were crying and sad. Without firewood they cannot cook. Labor and daily wages were lost. Some of them have land of their own. One of the farmers, Shankar, who runs an elaichi (cardamon) plantation, had his income stopped because the farm got under water.”
“In the nearby village in Bisonvalley, a relief camp was arranged in the government school, but villagers did not go. They stayed home,” says Sobhana. “The main problem is that there is no doctor in the Bisonvalley Primary Health Center at the moment.” As a health worker, Sobhana carries some fever tablets with her.
Since the rains have stopped in both districts, village coordinators have to clean their own homes from mud and mire. Then they will go to the villages to help people to do the same in their homes.
Now the health workers Sreekala in Wayanad and Sobhna in Idukki can go to the villages and start giving awareness sessions on personal hygiene, hand washing, boiling drinking water, communicable diseases, diarrhea, worms, and how to avoid water borne diseases.
It will take a few weeks for farmers to resume their work to ensure food for the next year. They have lost the crops, which were just planted before the floods.
The schools will remain closed until 29th of August in the whole state of Kerala. In Wayanad, Haridas is organizing games and plays for youngsters and children to cope with the state of emergency. The whole camp is participating in archana (recitations of divine names), satsangs, bhajans and meditations every day.